Cricket is known as the gentlemen’s game due to its simplicity and unbiased nature. Test cricket is the oldest and the longest format of the game. Cricket pundits always believe that real test of a player’s true quality or skill is revealed in Test cricket. The game is played in traditional white costume with cherry-coloured (red) ball, though the pink ball has been introduced in day/night Test cricket.
The first official Test cricket was played between two cricketing giants, Australia vs England, at the historic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) from March 15-19, 1877.
Attempts to Globalise the Game
Innovation is a part and parcel of cricket. This led to the birth of One Day (ODI) cricket in 1971. The popularity of ODIs had given a new dimension to the game, with the 1975 World Cup success. A second revolution came with the introduction of T20, the shortest format of the game. Gradually people shifted their focus on the shorter format of game, as it is less time consuming. Nevertheless, Test cricket has not lost its significance despite several variations of this sport. True cricket fans still want to watch Test cricket to judge the players’ ability, skill, strength and temperament.
Changes in Test Cricket
There is a possibility of some change everywhere. Test cricket is not an exception. However, introduction of Day/Night Test cricket did not prove enough to pull the crowds in and fill the stands. To bring the traditional cricket on a par with short formats of the game, International Cricket Council (ICC) has taken another awesome decision to host the ICC World Test Championship (WTC). Inaugural edition of the WTC is going to commence from August 1, 2019 at Edgbaston (England) between the two oldest foes in cricket, England vs Australia. The Ashes bilateral series will be played under the World Test Championship banner.
World Test Championship a New Venture
The hangover and anxiety of the recently concluded 50 overs 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup is still hovering in the minds of cricket fans, especially the Kiwis, after the heartbreak loss in the finals. They will now be eager to show off their mettle on the new battleground of Test cricket. As such, Test cricket means longevity, so overall top nine teams will battle it out for the honours. These include India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, England, Australia, New Zealand, West Indies, and South Africa. Zimbabwe, Ireland and Afghanistan are not included in the championship. A total of 72 Test matches would be played in 27 series across the next two years. Then the top two teams would face each other in the final scheduled to be played at the Lords (England) in June 2021.
No Controversial Rule
The result of the final match between England and New Zealand in the recently concluded 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup created a lot of controversy and heartburn, after England was declared the winner based on the number of boundaries. Earlier, both the teams had a nail-biting finish with a tie in the regular overs, as well as the Super Over, after an amazing match. This time around, the ICC does not want to keep any team in the dark and wants to avoid criticism at any cost. So, the rule for the grand finale has already been declared. If the final match under the World Test Championship ends in a tie or a draw, then the team which has more points at the end of the league will be declared as the champion. Hence, all precautions are being taken by the ICC to avoid the controversy similar to that dogging the World Cup.
For India, Chance to Ease Semi-final Debacle
After a shock semi-final loss against New Zealand in the ICC World Cup, when everything seemed to be going well, team India is now gearing up to ease its pain with an emphatic triumph in the World Test Championship. The Men in Blue are the hot favourites to win the inaugural WTC in 2021, as they did in the first T20 championship in 2007, defeating arch-rival Pakistan in the exciting final.
At present, India is looking like the best team in the longest format of cricket. After all, it defeated Australia last winter on their home turf and became the first sub-continent team to achieve this feat. Kohli and co. will kickstart their campaign in the World Test Championship 2019-2021 with two Tests against the West Indies, starting from August 22.
The rule of the WTC is that each team must play Test series against six other teams over the period of next two years. A team has to play three series at home and the same number away from home. Each Test series will offer 120 points, and the point system has been designed in such a way that the number of Test matches in a particular series does not matter.
Distribution of points as per matches in the series
|Matches in Series||Points for a Win||Points for a Tie||Points for a Draw||Points for a Loss|
India Hot Favourite
India is replete with sizeable batting talent and strong bowling line up. At least on paper, India is the most balanced team in Test cricket. Nonetheless, it is undeniable that cricket is a game of great uncertainty and victory and loss are the part and parcel of the game. For instance, India’s batting collapse against the Kiwis deprived India from lifting the ICC World Cup the third time. India is now ready for its new assignment to present its challenge in the first edition of the World Test Championship. At the outset, team India is a real contender to win the final of WTC which is scheduled to be held at the Lord’s in 2021 and repeat the 1983 feat.
H- denotes Home
|July-August 2019||2 Tests v West Indies (A)|
|October-November 2019||3 Tests v South Africa (H)|
|November 2019||2 Tests v Bangladesh (H)|
|February 2020||2 Tests v New Zealand (A)|
|December 2020||4 Tests v Australia (A)|
|January-February 2021||5 Tests v England (H)|